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Subject: A variant introducing adventure stacks rss

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Lipa LeChuck
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Just a quick idea I had last night (maybe someone has suggested something like this before?):

When you set up the board, instead of placing six adventure cards, place six stacks of 3 (or maybe 5) adventure cards face up. The idea is that you can only try to resolve the adventure at the top of each stack, however you can always take a look at what's waiting ahead of you. Imagine that you're in a hallway in the museum, trying to solve an adventure (fighting a monster blocking your way or whatever), yet from the corner of your eye you can catch a glimpse of what's waiting down the hallway… Once a stack is fully depleted, replace it with a new stack of adventure cards.

The purpose of this addition, as far as I can see, would be a somewhat enhanced theme and an added motivation to try some of the more dangerous adventures (I don't buy Elder Signs at the entrance, so if I would see some relatively easy adventures with Elder Sign rewards in one of the stacks, I would typically try to get them, even if the top adventure wouldn't look that nice). However, I haven't tried this variant yet though, so this is all speculation.

Any comments or further ideas?
 
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Chris Lawson
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LipaB wrote:
Just a quick idea I had last night (maybe someone has suggested something like this before?):

When you set up the board, instead of placing six adventure cards, place six stacks of 3 (or maybe 5) adventure cards face up. The idea is that you can only try to resolve the adventure at the top of each stack, however you can always take a look at what's waiting ahead of you. Imagine that you're in a hallway in the museum, trying to solve an adventure (fighting a monster blocking your way or whatever), yet from the corner of your eye you can catch a glimpse of what's waiting down the hallway… Once a stack is fully depleted, replace it with a new stack of adventure cards.

The purpose of this addition, as far as I can see, would be a somewhat enhanced theme and an added motivation to try some of the more dangerous adventures (I don't buy Elder Signs at the entrance, so if I would see some relatively easy adventures with Elder Sign rewards in one of the stacks, I would typically try to get them, even if the top adventure wouldn't look that nice). However, I haven't tried this variant yet though, so this is all speculation.

Any comments or further ideas?

I would like to raise two points concerning your suggestions.

First, it makes it easier. At first glance it might not seem to make much difference but one of the unknowns in the game is what Adventure card is going to be turned over next. While most of the time it doesn't really matter that much, there are a few key cards that can really add a challenge to the game. The cards I'm talking about are those At Midnight effects.

The Curator: Spend 2 Trophies or lose 1 Sanity and 1 Stamina.
Horrible Visions: Add 2 Doom tokens.
Hedge Maze: Lose 1 Stamina.
Don't Fall Asleep: Lose 1 Sanity.
Transported by Magic: A 1 Doom token for each Other World Adventure.

While there are only 5 of these in 48 Adventure cards, knowing where they are is a tremendous help to avoid losing. I would make sure that any stack that contained one of these cards was ignored and the card was never revealed. If need be, I would make sure that the card was only revealed as soon after Midnight so there were several turns to complete it before the next Midnight triggered the effect.

In normal play, the possibility that one of these cards is waiting to be turned over just before Midnight strikes is one of the tension points of the game. It is also true that when this happens it is rather frustrating since you don't even have a chance of completing it before it is triggered but that is one of the few nasty things that can happen in this game.

Being able to avoid that is too great an advantage. Plus the cards where the Midnight effect add a Monster and being able to avoid (or at least delay) those nasty Terror effects all makes it easier.

The second point is that it's going to extend the play time for certain groups. One of the few co-operative elements of Elder Sign is the discussion as to what Adventure should be attempted by which Investigator. Getting this right is key to making the game easier. Now that we would have 18 (or 30) Adventure cards to inspect and work out the best route would mean analysis paralysis for some. If you aren't going to look at the cards there is no point in playing the variant, if you do look at the cards then it is going to take time to discuss and analyse the best route. Before you only had 6 cards to discuss or ponder over, now it is going to be 18 or 30.

So nice idea but I don't think it's very practical for those who find the game easy.

If you find the game somewhat difficult and don't mind the extra time it will add to the game, then it would be worth trying it as it no doubt should help and see the issues ahead. It might also help you understand why you are doing badly in the normal game, it might help as a teaching aid.
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Lipa LeChuck
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Chris, thanks for the excellent and most constructive reply! Indeed, all your points are well presented and valid.

I typically play solo and I’ve already house-ruled the game to increase its difficulty, which I’ve explained in another post (primarily the four-hour time lapse, no Elder Signs at the entrance, fixed adventure card layout enabling limited movement, and obligatory battle with the GOO where Elder Signs are used to help out). As a result of the house rules, in my games I’m usually really trying to get those Elder Signs as soon as possible. So when I came up with the idea, I was so interested into the "push-your-luck-to-get-deeper-into-the-stack-where-booty-lies" aspect that I completely missed the potential "ignore-those-nasty-cards-down-below" situation which might arise this way, as you've noted. Indeed, from this point of view, it would seem that the game could be somewhat easier.

Nevertheless, as I’m really interested in further polishing my collection of house rules and trying to get the most out of this game (which I really love so far, especially after those modifications!), I think I’m still going to try this one out (I’m thinking with 4 cards per stack for now). Maybe during the play testing some additional ideas will spring to mind.

Any other comments and suggestions are more than welcome!
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Chris Lawson
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LipaB wrote:
I typically play solo and I’ve already house-ruled the game to increase its difficulty, which I’ve explained in another post (primarily the four-hour time lapse, no Elder Signs at the entrance, fixed adventure card layout enabling limited movement, and obligatory battle with the GOO where Elder Signs are used to help out). As a result of the house rules, in my games I’m usually really trying to get those Elder Signs as soon as possible. So when I came up with the idea, I was so interested into the "push-your-luck-to-get-deeper-into-the-stack-where-booty-lies" aspect that I completely missed the potential "ignore-those-nasty-cards-down-below" situation which might arise this way, as you've noted. Indeed, from this point of view, it would seem that the game could be somewhat easier.

Nevertheless, as I’m really interested in further polishing my collection of house rules and trying to get the most out of this game (which I really love so far, especially after those modifications!), I think I’m still going to try this one out (I’m thinking with 4 cards per stack for now). Maybe during the play testing some additional ideas will spring to mind.

Any other comments and suggestions are more than welcome!

OK, the fact you are using this in conjunction with other variants which make the game harder removes my objection about making the game easier. I do exactly the same thing when I introduce my Nodens Guardian into the game, I only do so because when I add an Abomination or Herald I need the extra help

On the aspect of key cards, there are another 3 Adventure cards that should be added to the 5 I already mentioned.

Did You Hear That?: Locks the green die.
Gala in the Great Hall: Locks the yellow die.
We Need to Find Help: Locks the red die.

Knowing where these three cards are will also make the game easier.

As for extending the length of the game, I still think this may be a problem but with only one player then the issue isn't really that great. I think it would be a problem with more players.

Another issue that might need consideration is the Mythos card "...Above an Open Door"
"Place an additional Adventure card below the others in play. This card is not replaced when it is resolved"
I don't think anything special needs to done with this at the moment but it's just a reminder of a card that might effect the new layout.

If you are interested, I designed a Guardian based on your idea. I tried to define the rules as your original idea but it is only my interpretation so I may have a few errors in what you intended. I added an extra rule which would allow extra cards to be drawn (but at a cost of 5 Trophies). I felt this would be needed during play and gives the players an extra option to consider.

Hypnos Guardian sheet


EDIT: The above is a new version of the Guardian created on 28th March 2012 at 11:53

The above image is in LQ (150dpi), my master is in 300dpi. If you have any comments or spot any errors then please let me know.

Currently I like the idea of creating Heralds and Guardians as the mechanism to introduce rules changes and new concepts. As mentioned, if you are interested, I could add this into my Elder Sign: Abominations - Game Expansion project (obviously with you credited as the designer). I recently posted my Great Old Ones Herald which is similar to your ideas concerning the changes to the winning conditions. It would be possible to create similar Heralds to match some of the other ideas you have gathered and designed.
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Lipa LeChuck
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Chris, this looks great! In fact, I've been keeping my eye on your expansion project for a while and I'm sure to check it out soon. I just wonder (and worry) how best to print the cards and all the tokens; I have a rather old ink-jet printer, and I guess it would be much nicer to have it done professionally...

Anyway, about this "adventure stack" variant - I've tried a few games so far, and I quite like it! I think that three or at most four cards in the stack work rather well. The extended game length is not really a problem since I mostly play solo, and the extra strategy required to determine the best course of action and a bit of planning ahead is IMHO a very nice addition to the game experience! Furthermore, in order to avoid the problem of "ignoring the bad cards", I set up the stacks so that only the top card of the stack and the bottom part of each other card in the stack are visible (I shifted each card in the stack a bit downward to reveal the penalties/rewards, but not the tasks or the title of the card). This works quite well, at least until you learn which penalties/rewards combination belongs to which card (especially the bad ones). Below is a photo of the setup (note that I'm using the fixed layout and the investigators are only allowed to move to the adjacent locations):



I like your Guardian very much indeed and I'll try it out! I have one or two ideas that might also be implemented somehow; maybe as Mythos Cards, perhaps?
EARTHQUAKE - Randomly shuffle the cards in one (or all?) of the stacks
RENOVATION - Change the order of the cards in one of the stacks

Also, I think it would be good that "something" happened each time a stack is fully depleted, but I just can't decide if this should be good or bad. Maybe a Doom token added/removed from the Doom Track?... I'm leaning towards something bad happening, so that the player would be motivated to try different adventures from different stacks, even if that would reveal one of the "nasty" cards.

Not sure if this is all thematically OK, but I just get these ideas as I go...

Thanks for all your work, I'm looking forward to more!

(EDIT: some additions and ideas)
 
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Chris Lawson
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The Hypnos Guardian is now available for download.

Lipa, if you want me to create a Guardian sheet matching your latest design, then let me know what rules you want included and I can make a PDF file for you. Even with an old ink-jet printer it should look OK.
 
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Lipa LeChuck
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Just wanted to confirm that I've playtested this variant quite a lot and I've had lots of fun with it! The only (crucial) addition to the rules that I would suggest is to add a doom token each time a stack is fully depleted. This way, the player is forced to try other adventures in the other stacks before depleting one, even if they are harder or if they reveal one of the nastier cards. Also, if you want a harder game, play with three cards in each stack (instead of four), which will bring about the doom tokens faster.

Thanks again for the hard work Chris, your expansion(s) will take a regular part in my future games!
 
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Chris Lawson
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LipaB wrote:
Just wanted to confirm that I've playtested this variant quite a lot and I've had lots of fun with it! The only (crucial) addition to the rules that I would suggest is to add a doom token each time a stack is fully depleted. This way, the player is forced to try other adventures in the other stacks before depleting one, even if they are harder or if they reveal one of the nastier cards. Also, if you want a harder game, play with three cards in each stack (instead of four), which will bring about the doom tokens faster.

Here's a new version of the Herald. I've added your changes and included two optional rules so as such it should fully conform to your design now.

Hypnos Guardian V2 sheet



It's interesting to note that with the harder option, it no longer is a Guardian but a Herald now
 
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